Amphetamines Symptoms and Warning Signs
Amphetamine Abuse and Addiction: Signs, Effects and Symptoms
The symptoms of amphetamine abuse will appear at different times and to varying degrees, depending on how you take the drug. In large doses, some of the effects you’re likely to experience include impaired coordination and rapid muscle deterioration. If you take even higher doses, you can expect to suffer psychosis, apnoea and hallucinations.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are strong stimulants that exert their effects on the central nervous system (CNS). They have been used around the world to treat narcolepsy, weight loss and ADHD. Amphetamines were first used as nasal decongestants from when they were developed in 1887. During the Second World War, they were used to enhance moods, increase endurance, and sharpen alertness.
Types of Amphetamine
Some common amphetamines include dexedrine, adderall (a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), benzedrine, methamphetamine (also called crystal meth, ice, crystal, or meth), methylphenidate, and ephedrine.
Causes and Risk Factors for Amphetamine Abuse and Addiction
You may be at a higher risk of having an amphetamine misuse disorder or addiction if you have easy access to the drug, are dealing with financial problems or are looking for a way out of emotional problems. Other risk factors include a stressful lifestyle, low self-esteem and mental disorders. It’s also a problem if you are in an environment where abuse of the drug is considered acceptable.
How Are Amphetamines Abused?
Amphetamine is abused when you take it without a prescription from a medical practitioner or in a manner other than what was prescribed. You may take it in capsule, crystal, tablet or powder form (possibly as a mixture). All these actions constitute abuse if you obtain or use the drug, as it is not a legal substance.
Dangers of Abusing Amphetamines
Abuse of this substance can contribute to malnutrition or cause paranoia, hostility, and severe cardiovascular problems such as a stroke. There is also the risk of overdose, which can leave you restless, in a state of panic or exhibiting aggression, amongst other symptoms. Abuse can also lead to stimulant psychosis, which can continue intermittently for a number of months.
Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse
If you are concerned about a friend or relative abusing this drug, some of the signs to look out for include: dilated pupils, faster breathing, dry mouth, increased blood pressure and increased body temperature. You may also notice they have less of an appetite or are unusually alert and energetic.
Typical amphetamine abuse, addiction and overdose signs and symptoms
Some of the typical signs and symptoms of amphetamine abuse and addiction include reduced social inhibitions, headache, nausea, irregular heartbeat, cardiovascular system failure, aggressiveness, paranoia, skin disorders and hostility, amongst others. Overdose symptoms may include seizures, confusion, vomiting, shaking, coma, or even death.
Behavioural signs of someone who is taking amphetamines
When a friend or family member takes amphetamines, some behavioural changes are almost instantaneous, while others take time to manifest. Reality is, if you are having doubts, you should try to talk with them and see what lies beneath the surface of their changed behavior.
If on amphetamines, at first they may seem exceedingly motivated towards work or school but could begin to struggle to keep up if drug use continues. You might notice a loss of interest, a tendency to overestimate ability, as well as talkativeness.
Physical signs of someone who is taking amphetamines
One of the most obvious signs you can pick out is prolonged loss of appetite, resulting in weight loss and malnourishment. Other physical signs include skin problems, constant fidgeting, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, and increased blood pressure.
Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
Some of the more immediate effects of methamphetamine abuse include: hyperthermia, irregular or rapid heartbeat, increased respiration, reduced appetite, increased wakefulness, and decreased fatigue. If you’ve been abusing the drug long-term, some of the effects you may experience include addiction, mood disturbances, insomnia, confusion, and psychotic episodes.
Effects of amphetamines on health
Amphetamines increase your risk of heart disease by means of arterial blockage, which can be particularly risky if you have a pre-existing heart condition. They also increase the risk of a stroke. This is even worse when you mix amphetamines with cocaine, opioids or alcohol. There is also the chance of developing symptoms resembling those of mental illnesses.
Effects of amphetamines on an abuser’s life
Amphetamine usage can lead to a host of problems if you happen to find yourself abusing the drug. It can result in serious physical health issues or complicate any pre-existing ones. Your personality and behaviour are negatively affected, which in turn has a direct effect on everyone around you, including your family and friends.
Addiction may have worsened your communication with your family members, may have worsened your attention span and concentration levels, leading to a number of professional issues. Many have let their dependence to drugs lead to financial and health issues they would have never left unattended otherwise.
It may be that you have an existing mood or mental disorder co-occurring with your substance abuse. If so, the reason might be that you resorted to using amphetamines to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder or depression, without even knowing these problems were actually present. It’s best to seek treatment immediately in order to determine whether you have any co-occurring disorders, so they can be treated accordingly.
Amphetamines Addiction and Abuse Treatment Programmes
There are professional treatment programmes available to help you get to beat your addiction or substance misuse disorder. Such treatment programmes are effective because they don’t merely focus on the symptoms, but actually dig deeper to unearth the problem and rectify it.
Treatment and therapies for amphetamine abuse and addiction
There are various treatment options available and what works best for you will depend on your unique circumstances. They include residential detox – which is followed by outpatient or inpatient treatment – and aftercare. Therapy may be undertaken on an individual or group basis and could possibly involve family members.
Amphetamines addiction and abuse detox
Detoxification is the first stage of treatment, whereby all toxins of the drug will be allowed to drain out of your system. If necessary, you will be given medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. It is best to detox in a supervised medical setting, where you can receive all the help you need, especially if you’ve been heavily using amphetamines and/or for a long period.
What happens before, during and after rehab?
Before rehab, you’ll be assessed to determine the best treatment plan for you. The detox also happens before rehabilitation. During therapy, you’ll determine what triggers and stressors contribute to your drug abuse and you’ll learn to manage cravings, amongst other skills needed for to thrive after treatment. On completing rehab, aftercare follows in the form of support groups, consultations and sessions with a therapist you have chosen, or any other befitting option.
Getting through withdrawal from amphetamine
Some of the symptoms you may experience include panic attacks, anxiety, nightmares, mood swings, extreme hunger, depression and intense cravings. If medically supervised, you will receive adequate medication to subdue the effects and manage the risk-factors. A doctor will supervise your condition 24/7.
Managing amphetamine withdrawal symptoms
You may be given some medication to manage certain symptoms. You’ll have to do the rest on your own by eating healthily, exercising, and doing your best to ‘keep it together’ until the process is over.
Building a New Sober Life
It’s not easy to become drug-free and it can be even more difficult to build or rebuild a life after reaching abstinence. You’ll have to continue fighting off cravings, taking all necessary steps to live a normal life again. You can’t do it alone, so be sure to surround yourself with people who can support you.
A support group is a community of recovering users of amphetamines who help one another stay on track on their journey to recovery. While support groups specifically for former amphetamine addicts are rare, a group like Narcotics Anonymous is not likely to refuse you.
Resources for family
There are ample resources where you can learn about drug abuse and addiction. Such materials can equip you to help your addicted loved one in the best ways possible. Such resources are available also during the family recovery programmes available in some rehabilitation facilities.
Amphetamines Addiction and Abuse: Statistics and Key Facts
In 2014/15, hospitals in England reported 8,149 admissions with drug-related behavioural and mental health disorders as the primary diagnosis.
The number of admissions where patients were diagnosed with poisoning by illicit drugs amounted to 14, 279.
In the same year, drug misuse-related deaths were the highest they had been since 1993.
Get Started on Your Path to Recovery
Time is of the essence when drugs are involved. It’s okay if you are not certain where to start. Reach out to a professional rehab facility to help you get started on the road to recovery.
Call a confidential helpline 24/7
Confidential helplines, related or not to rehabs, however, can help you find a quick answer to your questions. The advisers who will pick up the phone will be mostly people who know addiction from personal experience, who have already defeated the demons alone or for a loved one.
Get answers to your questions
It’s likely that there’s a lot you would like to know about your addiction or that of your loved one. By contacting a hotline or a rehab’s phone number, you will be actively reaching out. Asking the right questions is not as important as raising the issue. The counsellor on the phone will guide you to find the real answers to your underlying worries.
Get a call from a treatment specialist
Treatment specialists will return your calls and you will be able to start treatment. Many programmes are open for same-day admissions and offer sober transport for you or your loved ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are amphetamines?
Amphetamines are stimulants which affect the central nervous system by speeding up the messages passing through the brain and body.
How are amphetamines abused?
You would be abusing amphetamines if are taking doses more often or higher than those prescribed or if you buy them illegally, without having a prescription from a medical practitioner.
What are the signs and symptoms of methamphetamine abuse?
Some of the symptoms of methamphetamine abuse include: hyperthermia, irregular or rapid heartbeat, increased respiration, decreased appetite, increased talkativeness and increased activity.
What are the differences between amphetamines and speed?
Speed is one form of the stimulant methamphetamine, which is one of the amphetamine group of drugs. Speed is about 10% to 20% pure and can be a yellow or white powder or in the form of pills.
How do I know if someone is taking amphetamines?
One of the easiest signs to spot is talkativeness. Others include prolonged loss of appetite, unusual sleep cycles, fidgeting, increased body temperature, and dilated pupils.
What does an amphetamine overdose look like?
Symptoms of an overdose include coma, seizures, confusion, aggression, vomiting, heart rhythm disturbances, and shaking. If you notice any of them, please seek medical help immediately, as an overdose can be deadly.
What are the effects of methamphetamine abuse?
Some of the effects of methamphetamine abuse include hyperthermia, irregular/rapid heartbeat, increased respiration, decreased appetite, increased activity, increased attention, and decreased fatigue.
What other drugs are used with amphetamines?
Among the substances often taken with amphetamines are alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy. Poly-drug abuse is undertaken in the belief that the effects of amphetamine will be enhanced by other drugs.
What happens when I use other drugs with amphetamines?
In the case of alcohol, there is a risk of overdose, because it may suppress the effects of the drug, given that it is a depressant. Using other drugs with amphetamines can complicate your ability to detox and recover, in addition to straining your body systems.
How does meth affect the user’s brain?
Methamphetamine affects the central nervous system and creates a euphoric state that can last as long as 12 hours. Long-term meth abuse can irreversibly damage nerve cells, induce a state of psychosis, or cause a major decline in IQ.
What does amphetamines addiction look like?
You know you’ve become addicted when you start to feel depressed or even suicidal when you’re not taking the drug. You’ll experience extreme cravings that make it difficult to stop abusing amphetamines.
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